Thursday, February 15, 2007

Bauer Watch: This Time It's Even More Personal

So how do the producers of “24” top an Emmy winning season in which Jack Bauer takes down the president of the United States? They keep it in the family. In Season 6 of “24,” Jack has to contend with his evil father, played by none other than James Cromwell, king of the fatherly villains who lull you into a false sense of security before shooting you in the heart (sorry, Kevin Spacey.) After Jack found out that his father’s company was involved in the nuclear bomb exploding in Valencia, he tries to reach him- alerting his slimy brother, who we’ve never seen in the first five seasons of the show. Turns out his brother is none other than the nameless Blue Tooth Douche from last year, the guy who was powerful enough to give crooked and Nixonish President Logan his marching orders.

In an insanely intense scene, Jack tortures his brother while hugging him and weeping, until he finally admits that he was behind Season 5’s assassination of former President Palmer as well as the framing of Jack for said murder. He almost kills his brother in the interrogation, only letting up when his father (whom Jack still believes is a good guy) walks in on the scene. Jack leaves his father and brother alone- only to have dear old dad kill him himself.

And you thought your family was fucked up.

Papa Bauer ends up back at CTU, with his now dead son’s kid. As Jack heads out to find a former Russian general who might have connections to the terrorists with the now widowed (and Milfy) wife of his brother (who has some vague romantic past with Jack that involves lingering romantic tension,) Jack’s dad takes his own grandson hostage, determined to “protect his company,” and ready to kill the kid if his mom doesn’t lie to Jack and tell him to go to the wrong, booby trapped house. This guy is dedicated to his job- he’s killed one son, attempted to kill the other, and threatened to kill his grandson. The Bauer family must have really awkward Thanksgiving gatherings.

It’s unclear at this point what Cromwell’s bad dad did exactly, or how connected to the terrorists he and his company are- or what exactly the company is but the choice to bring in the Bauer clan is genius. With three nukes still in terrorist hands, crazy Neo-Con hawks circling around new President Wayne Palmer, and Chloe experiencing a mini meltdown of her own with boyfriend/ ex-husband Morris, the show has got a lot of balls in the air. But the choice to bring Jack’s family into the mix is the real stroke of genius this year, keeping it personal and intense for the broken and defeated Jack of season 6. It's all going to lead to Jack confronting, and as would be consistent with the writers of “24,” who can’t seem to let Jack catch a break, probably killing his own father. Six seasons in, and the creators of the show still find ways to keep it fresh, exciting, and surprisingly emotionally satisfying.